About simonjohnparkin

A graphic designer from Brighton, UK who likes walking an' that

36th Challenge complete

For my night time mountain bike race I entered the Mud and Sweat Nightrider event at Haldon Forest in Devon.

I’d been a bit ill the week before and hadn’t eaten properly on the day of the race. Then my son was up in the night so I’d had about five hours sleep. By the time I’d driven to Devon and set my bike up I was already exhausted.

A long line of riders waited at the start in the middle of the forest at night. It was a spectacular sight but as soon as the horn blew and we set off, I knew I wasn’t going to make it. The race started with a hill and I was immediately out of breath and feeling nauseous. The route entered the singletracks of the forest and immediately got very technical – way out of my league. I would have struggled doing trails like that in the daylight, let alone at night after five hours sleep and with a stomach bug.

I went the wrong way. I got off my bike and pushed up and down the steep bits. I thought I had a flat when it was just thick mud. I got lapped. I had to keep stopping to let riders by. I wasn’t enjoying it. I struggled to the end of the first lap and gave up, dripping with sweat and feeling woozy.

I know I’m only saying this because I couldn’t do it, but, this sort of mountain biking just isn’t for me. I didn’t enjoy it and I won’t be doing it again.

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33rd Challenge complete

Night swimming at Goodrington Beach, PaigntonHalloween. I had just finished 3 weeks of solid work. I had just had a hectic day. I drove through rush-hour traffic down the M5 to Goodrington Beach, Paignton to meet up with the other Happy Wild Swimming group for a Halloween night swim. I was late. I hadn’t even had time to get a costume. I got out of the car and straight into my wetsuit, barely able to talk with leftover stress from the day and drive, following the fancy-dressed group down the beach.

It was just a quick swim. More of a wade for me. I had a quick go at crawl and it was very strange swimming in the dark but, not that different from usual outdoor swimming. Maybe it’s because I close my eyes when I’m underwater!

Nice to have a drink with everyone afterwards. They’re a great group to swim and socialise with.

32nd Challenge complete

I have completed an online class. I tried several times. I started on ‘Virology 1: How Viruses Work’ but I didn’t understand it. I started on ‘Introduction to Digital Sound Design’ but I fell behind as there was too much practical work to be done. I started on ‘The American South: Its Stories, Music and Art’ but the online lecturer had a deep southern drawl that made his lectures unbelievably boring. I finally plumped for a fairly generic course: ‘Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects’ a four week course teaching things like how to overcome procrastination and the difference between focussed and diffuse thinking.

Dr. Terrence Sejnowski & Barbara OakleyThe couple of professors presenting it were hilarious. Like bad TV presenters from 1980s instructional videos. While I was ‘studying’ my partner often looked over at my screen to see a badly drawn donkey on a shopping trolley to illustrate some metaphor they were talking about.

Parts of the classes were interesting and the lecturers were actually very inspiring people who had lived varied professional lives. But I don’t think I really learned much. Maybe it was more relevant to people actually studying for examinations. Maybe I’ll pick something that I’m more interested in next time!

Still, I got a 93.4% in my final grade.

If you haven’t heard of it before, do look at the FREE online courses on Coursera.